The Ride That Did Not Break Me
Let me first start this post with a disclaimer. I take good care of my bike, I really do (well, often with Steve’s help). I wash her and lube her and take her in for her maintenance when it comes do. I figured that it would be coming do really soon; might as well get in one more long ride before taking her back to the LBS. She was fine when we left the house on Sunday. She was coming due for a new chain but that was about it. Please keep this in mind.
I woke up at 8:30 on Sunday and my friend Jess’s fabulous cabin. I had only spent 36 hours there, but it was exactly enough time to do some much needed catching up with my amazing undergrad friends. I even managed to get in a 5.5 mile run and a 75 minute swim in on Saturday. Steve and I left the cabin early so we could get in our last bike ride. I was hoping for 112 miles. We were home around 11 AM – plenty of time to get my bike ready and prepare all of my nutrition. I guess there’s something to be said about that “too many cooks in the kitchen” saying. Seconds after warning Steve to steer clear of my uncapped bottle of Carbo Pro, I managed to knock his bottle onto the floor, the cupboards, and myself. Thank God it wasn’t my bottle. I had 16 scoops of carbo pro in mine (over 1700 calories), his only contained 6 scoops. Either way, it ended up being a super sticky mess and took us a good 10-15 minutes to clean up our splattered kitchen, not exactly in my pre-ride planned time allotment.
If I had been preparing for last year’s Ironman, the conditions would have been perfect. It was mid-50s and misting when Steve and I left the house. This time around, though, I was a little better dressed!. We rode together for a couple of miles before wishing each other luck.
The first 20 miles or so were pretty uneventful. It misted and sprinkled off and on, and even though it was a little chilly, I didn’t even need my windbreaker. Then it started raining. It never quite poured, but it came as close as it possibly could. It rained for two or three hours before reverting back to a sprinkle. Honestly, I sort of lost track by that point. My feet were soaked as was the rest of me. Everything was covered in mud and sand, and I made it my goal of the day not to eat too much of it. I probably lost more fluids in spit than in sweat over the course of my ride. I was pretty miserable for a while out there and thought of so many reasons why I should turn around and go home, but I persevered. I rode The Big Nasty 4 times, squeezing my brakes with everything I had each time, afraid of what would happen if I slipped on the wet roads going more than 30 miles per hour. My bike squeaked and creaked with every shift. The chain lube had long washed off and had replaced by sheer grit. By the end of the ride, it took some crafty work to get it to shift at all. Around mile 60, one of my aerobar rests died. They are spring loaded so I can lean down on them or put my hands under them when I’m not in aero, but one of the thousands of bumps in the county road must’ve been the last straw. It ended up in the down position, floppy and lifeless, but it still worked so I pressed on. Around mile 80, I realized that there was no way I would fit in a full 112. My average MPH was actually higher than last week’s, even with the wind, the rain, and 4 trips up Big Nasty. I had a near miss with an overzealous car turning left earlier in the week, though, and didn’t want to take another gamble. I decided to go for 107. By the time I hit 2 miles from home, there wasn’t a glimmer of daylight left. On the last 1/2 mile pedaling toward my house, I knew something didn’t feel right. Sure enough. I was halfway to a flat rear tire by the time I reached my front steps.
106.5 miles of hills.
One very squeaky bike that refuses to shift on command.
A flat, floppy arm rest for my aerobars.
Over 8 hours of rain.
A heck of a cold day.
A flat on my Gatorskins (that's only happened one other time in 3 years).
Despite all of it, my attitude for the day was actually pretty good! I took my bike to the LBS yesterday, absolutely embarrassed for anyone to see her in this condition. I know they’ll take good care of her, though. Turns out that in addition to the aerobar, the tire, the overdue chain, and the general servicing due, my rear hub has also come loose. She’ll be there for 4 days :( I just hope she comes out of it OK and that we can still be friends. I’ll need her help again in under 3 weeks!
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